by Amanda Geronikos
Costa Rica’s Tortuga Lodge is an intimate hotel, with just 27 guestrooms. Some rooms feature balconies with views of the lush rain forest. The hotel also has an onsite restaurant, pool, and complimentary Wi-Fi; note that there is no air conditioning, however. The highlight of a visit to this hotel is the chance to get up close with wildlife, including macawas, iguanas, and of course, turtles.
Our Editor Loves
- Intimate lodge
- Wildlife sightings
- Local cuisine
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
My 80 year old mother, my six year old son and I stayed here for three nights and for the month I was in Costa Rica this was by far the best place I stayed. The staff went so far beyond the normal service: they organized a surprise birthday party for a boy staying there (a surprise even to his parents) complete with cake, a piñata, decorations and gifts for both the boy AND my son so he wouldn’t feel left out. They pointed out numerous animals on their amazing grounds that are filled with huge iguanas and howler monkeys. The rooms are beautiful and the pool area and view of the water is gorgeous. The trails on the grounds are deceptively long and gorgeous. When we got back later than expected from a hike due to deep puddles the groundskeeper came looking for us and carried my son back, slogging through the puddles (they provide boots and waking sticks, which were critical!). This place is simply magical. Even the food was delicious! And getting there is half the fun (by tiny prop plane then boat ride to the hotel where the staff line up and wave as you approach and offer you a smoothie as you disembark. Or you can take a river boat and seek crocs and wildlife sing the way!).
We were there in low season (June) so with more people there it could be less special and the screened windows without glass or AC could be problematic if there were noisy neighbors but were lovely and breezy for us!
There are 2 ways to travel to the hotel, a short 30 min flight from San Jose or we drove from San Jose (approx 3 hours) and the a boat trip (approx 45 mins). In arrival at the hotel we had a few issues with the pre booked excursions (either not booked, booked on the wrong day or in a group rather than the private trips we had paid for). Not sure if this was done to the hotel or the ground handlers Travel Excellence but they were helpful and quick to resolve.
A quick note on Travel Excellence, although they did resolve our issues, we had problems on a few legs of our trip so please check with your travel agent which ground handlers they use in Costa Rica!
The accommodation is simple, but clean and nice, we went for a river view room. The rooms have a ceiling fan but no air con and we found this was sufficient as you also can a breeze from the river. A small hairdryer attached to the wall is provided, also shampoo, conditioner and body wash, no body lotion.
The hotel also provides bug spray and suntan lotions upto spf 85 (at the pool and reception) which is great if you are on a long trip and have a weight restriction on your luggage. Boots are also provided for walks when it's muddy.
We went full board, the restaurant was a bit hit and miss, I would choose the plainer options as they are not good at fancy! the hotel does provide free tea/coffee and biscuits throughout the day and on an evening around 17:30 they also offer free nachos at the bar.
So....to the real reason you go to this hotel, the WILDLIFE. The hotel has amazing guides, we had Norton, Xavier and Noel, we saw dolphins, iguanas, caimans, toucans, parrots, lots of different herons, river turtles, bats, possums, amazing butterflies and a wide variety of birds. We were not at the hotel at the right time for turtle nesting (July-Sept) or hatching (Aug-Nov) but did have a wander down the beach where the turtles nest and visited the turtle conservation centre. We also visited the village and a guy who makes his own chocolate, did a private kayak tour, the early morning and twilight walks are a must, you see so much.
Although I have mentioned a couple of small issues above, if I was going to Tortugero again, I would definitely choose this hotel.